Written by David Castellon
California once again led the nation in agricultural sales in 2017, with six Valley counties — along with one along the state’s Central Coast — topping ag sales across the nation.
This according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture, which gathers information annually on U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them.
Agricultural sales in California exceeded $45 billion in 2017 — about 12 percent of total U.S. ag sales — far outpacing the No. 2 state, Iowa, which had sales totaling about $29 billion, followed by Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Indiana.
But while the USDA lists the same top ag counties as the California Department of Agriculture, they don’t list them in the same order.
Most notably, the federal agency lists Fresno County as the top ag county in the nation for 2017.
CDFA placed Fresno County as third in sales that year, behind Kern and Tulare counties, respectively.
CDFA officials couldn’t be immediately reached to determine if the USDA census used different criteria in determining total ag sales.
The other four top ag counties were, in order, Monterey, Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin, all of which also are among the top seven ag counties on the USDA’s list.
The top commodities produced on farms nationally were cattle and calves, followed by corn, poultry and eggs, soybeans and milk. California lead the nation in milk production, a total of 18 percent.
Other California highlights from the farm census:
– The state’s top commodities were fruits and nuts, with $17.5 billion in combined sales; vegetables, with $8.2 billion; milk, with $6.5 billion; cattle and calves, with $3.1 billion; and horticulture, with $2.9 billion.
– Total farm production expenses for California totaled $37.8 billion.
– The average age of the California farmer was 59.2 years old, compared to the national average of 57.5 years old.
– Military veterans accounted for 10 percent of California farmers, compared to about 11 percent, nationally.
– At 14,552 farms, California was the top state using renewable energy-producing systems in agriculture. Solar was the most common renewable energy-producing system on farms and ranches in the state.